Best Panasonic Camcorders

Updated August 2021
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for

If you are looking for a high-quality camcorder, consider one of the terrific offerings from Panasonic. Panasonic creates handheld camcorders aimed at consumers and professional videographers. As such, you are likely to find something that will fit both your budget and your shooting needs.

Panasonic camcorders allow you to record video at a high level using many of the latest technologies. A few specific features that are unique to the brand may intrigue you. However, it can be overwhelming to wade through all of the offerings and try to differentiate between them, so we have done the hard work for you.

Read on to learn everything you need to know when shopping for a Panasonic camcorder, from optical zoom and frames per second (FPS) to features like special effects and WiFi. To make shopping even easier, check out the Panasonic camcorders we have highlighted as our favorites.

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Panasonic introduced its first digital camcorder in 2002, but it began making VHS camcorders in the mid-1980s.

Key considerations

Optical zoom

The optical zoom lens is a key part of any camcorder, giving it an advantage over DSLR and mirrorless still-image cameras trying to shoot video. The zoom lens allows you to stand in one place and significantly change the magnification of the scene. The term “optical zoom” refers to the movement of glass elements inside the lens to create magnification. This is superior to digital zoom, which refers to the magnification of images via software (and thus, some loss of image clarity).

Panasonic sometimes combines optical and digital zoom elements and calls it “Intelligent Zoom.” However, when shopping, you should focus on optical zoom numbers. Panasonic denotes optical zoom as a number with an X. Larger numbers equal greater magnification. Anywhere from 10X to 50X optical zoom is possible with Panasonic camcorders.

Image sensor

The image sensor is the chip that measures the light coming through the lens to create the image for the video. Sensors that are larger in size create sharper images.

The majority of image sensors in Panasonic camcorders are 1/2.3 inches in size. However, for a pro-level camcorder from Panasonic, the image sensor could be as large as 1 inch, which greatly improves image quality.

Panasonic uses BSI (back side illumination) technology in its sensor to reduce noise (or incorrectly measured pixels) in the scene, which can be a problem when shooting videos in low light.

Resolution

The image sensor determines the maximum video resolution at which you can shoot, usually either 4K or HD (high definition). A 4K recording has about four times as many pixels per frame as an HD recording. Some Panasonic cameras shoot at a resolution called Cinema 4K, which is slightly wider and has a few hundred more pixels than standard 4K.

Frame rate

A Panasonic camcorder frame rate, or FPS, refers to the number of frames per second it can record. Rates of 24, 30, 50, and 60 are common.

Microphone

Lower-priced Panasonic camcorders have a microphone built inside the body of the camcorder. This tiny microphone cannot match the sound quality you’d get from a large microphone that extends outside the camcorder’s body. Some Panasonic models have an attached but rotatable microphone outside the camera body for directional audio pickup.

You also have the option of attaching an external microphone with a cable to a port on the camcorder. Some pro-level Panasonic camcorders ship with two input terminals, allowing for extensive audio control.

LCD screen and EVF

To frame your scene, you should have the option of an EVF (electronic viewfinder) or LCD screen. An LCD screen usually folds into the camcorder body when not in use. Quite a few Panasonic camcorders include a tiltable LCD, which allows you to adjust the angle of the screen so you can see it easily without worrying about sun glare.

Self-leveling

To help you shoot photos that are squared up properly rather than tilted, Panasonic camcorders often include an automatic correction for the lens which will counteract the slight tilt you create as you hold the camera.

High-end Panasonic cameras have an anti-shake capability called OIS (optical image stabilization) that steadies the image when you are holding the camcorder in your hands, eliminating blur.

If you plan to use your Panasonic camcorder for several hours, you may want to purchase a second battery so you can keep recording on a fresh battery while the other one charges.

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Features

HDR

High dynamic range (HDR) recording allows you to capture clear video when shooting in difficult lighting conditions. It helps you pull details out of deep shadows and excessively bright areas.

Special effects

Panasonic camcorders often include multiple special effect options that you can add via the camcorder’s software, including the following:

  • 8mm movie simulation
  • Time lapse
  • Miniature effect
  • Slow motion

WiFi

If you have a Panasonic camcorder with built-in WiFi, you can automatically copy your videos to a computer as you shoot them. WiFi also gives you the ability to use your camcorder as a baby monitor or webcam, streaming video in real time. You could also use a smartphone or tablet app to remotely control the camcorder over the WiFi connection.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Beyond camcorders, Panasonic manufactures a number of products aimed at consumers, including digital cameras (still image), SD storage cards, telephones, and network cameras.
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Accessories

SD memory card: SanDisk Ultra SDXC Memory Card
To store digital video recordings, you need a memory card. Panasonic camcorders commonly use an SD-size memory card. The 64GB of storage on this SanDisk card should be plenty for several hours of video recording.

HDMI cable: AudioQuest Forest HDMI Cable
If your Panasonic camcorder does not ship with an HDMI cable, you may need to purchase one separately. This AudioQuest cable is available in multiple lengths. Just make sure that its connectors will fit your camcorder and TV ports.

Panasonic digital camera: Panasonic Lumix G9 Mirrorless Camera
If you prefer to shoot video with a still image digital camera rather than with a camcorder, Panasonic offers a variety of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. The G9 includes two SD memory card slots so you have plenty of space for recording video.

Panasonic camcorder prices

Low-end: Budget-priced Panasonic camcorders start in the $100 to $400 range. These may not contain the latest technologies, like 4K resolution, and zoom lenses may be limited.

Mid-range: Mid-priced camcorders from Panasonic run from $400 to $1,000. This price range is popular with consumers and offers reasonable video quality and an average zoom lens. Toward the top end of the range, you will likely find 4K resolution.

High-end: Panasonic offers several handheld camcorders for professionals and advanced consumers. These cost anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000. Deluxe features such as 4K resolution, a high-end rotatable microphone attached to the camcorder, and an attached LED light with a model can be found in this price range.

To simplify holding and using your Panasonic camcorder and to make it comfortable as possible, look for one with a hand strap on the side.

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Tips

  • Consider using a tripod. Holding a camcorder by hand all day can get tiring. Consider investing in a tripod and letting it do some of the heavy lifting.
  • Focus on the light. All Panasonic camcorders perform better when the lighting is good. If possible, shoot your movies in daylight or a well-lit room. If you have no choice but to shoot in a darker room, consider shooting with the HDR mode activated.
  • Avoid strong backlights. When the back of the scene has a strong light source, it can overwhelm the items in the foreground, leading to a loss of detail. This is a common problem when recording people’s faces with a strong backlight. Move your body or change the position of the subject to remove the backlight.
  • Shoot now and edit later. Because Panasonic camcorders have such a large number of special effect editing options built in, it’s tempting to shoot some video and then spend time editing it inside the camcorder. Instead, shoot all of the video you want while the event is occurring, and do your edits later. That way, you won’t miss any of the action at the event.
panasonic camcorder3
For the best sound quality with a Panasonic camcorder, consider adding an external microphone through a port rather than using the device’s built-in microphone.

FAQ

Q. Is it easy to transfer videos from the Panasonic camcorder to a computer for storage?

A. When you purchase a Panasonic camcorder, it should ship with a connecting cable. Usually this will be a USB cable for file transfers. (Not all Panasonic camcorders ship with the cables you need, so you may have to purchase them separately.) Run the cable between the camcorder and the computer, and copy the video file to the computer.

Q. Can I connect my Panasonic camcorder to my television for playback?

A. Yes. This is an easy process with the majority of Panasonic camcorder models. Start by turning on the camcorder. Run an HDMI cable between the camcorder and the television. Place the camcorder in playback or review mode. Use the TV remote control to change the input channel to whatever HDMI port you’re using. Then begin playback on the camcorder, and the picture should appear on the TV.

Q. Why would I buy a camcorder if my digital camera shoots great video already?

A. The video quality on a newer still image digital camera is typically outstanding, which means some people forego buying a camcorder. However, a camcorder often will have a strong zoom lens that allows you to record video of far-off objects easier than with a digital camera. So if optical zoom is important to you, a camcorder is a useful purchase.

Q. Is my old Panasonic camcorder that records to tape worth using, or should I switch to a digital camcorder?

A. Eventually, you are going to want to switch to a digital camcorder. An old camcorder that records with tape does not have the image quality of a digital camcorder from Panasonic. And, after a while, finding blank tapes to purchase that fit the old camcorder becomes nearly impossible. Plus, to view said tapes down the road, you will probably need to have them converted to digital anyway, which can be expensive. Switching over to digital now is the better way to go.

 

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